Five Myths About Sprawl

32 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008

See all articles by Michael Lewyn

Michael Lewyn

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center


In Sprawl: A Compact History, Robert Bruegmann, an art historian, has painted a superficially convincing case for the status quo, asserting that sprawl is "a natural result of affluence that occurs in all urbanized societies." Bruegmann's book has generated glowing media publicity. This article suggests that Bruegmann overestimates the universality of sprawl, by overlooking the differences between pedestrian-friendly cities with some sprawling development and cities in which automobile-dependent sprawl is the only choice available to most consumers. In addition, Bruegmann understates the harmful social effects of sprawl, especially the effect of automobile-dependent development upon non-drivers. Bruegmann also consistently underestimates the role of government spending and regulations in creating sprawl and, as a result, fails to adequately discuss the possibility that sprawl can be reduced by limiting, rather than increasing, the size and intrusiveness of government.

Keywords: sprawl, bruegmann

JEL Classification: R41, R52, R58

Suggested Citation

Lewyn, Michael, Five Myths About Sprawl. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Lewyn (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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